Massachusetts Puts HR Analytics to Work for its People

Most people cringe at being treated "like a number"

But sometimes numbers can have the opposite effect: more personalized services. That’s the case in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where HR data analytics are informing workforce-related decisions.

Better insights are helping leaders attract, develop and retain talent while supporting higher employee productivity and satisfaction. Ultimately, the HR analytics are empowering state workers to deliver better and more enduring outcomes to the people they serve.

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Investing In the Future Workforce Download Video Transcript

Putting Data to Work: Designing for Success

Massachusetts' Largest Employer

Animated infographic showing broad scope of HR Division

The Human Resources (HR) Division for the Commonwealth provides HR leadership, guidance, management, and HR best practice solutions to state agencies, all executive department employees, and municipal subdivisions.

While each agency has unique needs, all share common HR challenges around talent recruitment, development and retention, as well as overall productivity and effectiveness. The Massachusetts HR Division identified an opportunity to use HR analytics to address some of those challenges—while positioning HR as a high-value talent and decision-support function for all state agencies.

Top Down, Bottom Up

Underscoring its commitment to people first, the HR Division wanted to understand user needs from multiple perspectives. It worked with Accenture to conduct interviews and workshops with 50 HR and business leaders. The result: 49 use cases for how the data could help tackle key HR and business challenges.

With those use cases, the HR Division created standard reports and on-demand analytics to answer a range of critical questions across the HR domains of workforce profile, absenteeism, recruitment, retention and compensation. Among those questions:

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Are certain demographic groups turning over at higher rates than others?

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Can I do smarter workforce planning by better understanding patterns of attrition and new entrants?

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Can I understand how the use of overtime compares across agencies, locations and job types?

World-class HR Analytics Program

The HR Division designed, built and tested the solution in collaboration with 30 business and data champions from across the Commonwealth. The team released the analytics iteratively—allowing time for additional feedback and refinements while also nurturing user buy-in. Since then, the analytics capabilities have been released to nearly 200 senior executives, managers and report producers. At the same time, Massachusetts has affirmed analytics as part of its culture by establishing a dedicated HR Analytics team.

Today the Commonwealth of Massachusetts operates a world-class HR Analytics program—with the central team collaborating with Secretariat partners to drive business value.

What Gets Measured
Gets Treasured

With headcount capped at current levels, DTA Commissioner Jeff McCue saw a significant challenge with absenteeism and wanted to understand how to help employees better handle high volumes of inquiries and applications while protecting work/life balance.

When employees miss work, it has a big impact on service delivery. Partnering with the state’s HR Analytics team, McCue and DTA’s Director of Performance Management asked a key question—What are the patterns of absenteeism that reduce time worked?—and established their hypothesis: There are patterns of absence that are diminishing productivity.

HR Analytics delivered insights that are empowering DTA to improve workforce planning and work allocation—including casework management based on absenteeism patterns.

Analytics revealed a major risk: the impact of a heavy vacation season.

7,000 cases at risk

DTA engaged other staff to fill the gaps, stayed on track and processed...

11,500 additional cases

In using the HR Analytics capabilities, McCue and his DTA team have adopted a simple yet powerful philosophy: “What gets measured gets treasured.” It’s a statement that speaks to the power of analytics. It also underscores the commitment of the Commonwealth to its greatest “treasures”: its dedicated workers and the citizens they serve.

Jeff McCue


Department of Transitional Assistance

"The HR Analytics tool portrays key data for agency managers that will be instrumental in securing higher individual, team and agency performance [and] more effective resource deployment. It will be exciting to watch how this tool can be used in the Commonwealth to make HR a stronger strategic partner in agency planning and performance."

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Tim Rogers

Client Account Executive, Accenture

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